Did you know that chocolate originates from fruit? Chocolate is derived from cocoa beans — these beans are technically dried and fermented seeds from the Theobroma cacao tree. From the tree, these seeds (also called beans) come from a fruit called a cocoa pod.
Cocoa quality is determined right from the moment it starts growing on the tree. The cocoa grows best under the canopy of the tropical rainforest, where the pods get the right amount of sun and shade. The humid conditions are also preferred by the midges (a type of insect) that pollinate the flowers.
Most Ghanaian cocoa is grown on small family farms, typically of between 2-3 hectares (approx. 2.5 acres per hectare). It is usually intercropped with other plants and trees, such as plantains, maize and spices. These not only provide shade while the cocoa trees are growing, but they can also provide up to 65% of the family’s own food supply as well as additional income.
Caring for cacao trees is very labour intensive, with a focus on continuous weeding around them. This maximises the nutrients the tree is getting and reduces the risk of disease.